• Thu
  • Nov 20, 2014
  • Updated: 1:03am
Column
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 1:48am

Let’s be honest, part of the entertainment of watching sport is the attractive athletes

Many female fans enjoy the rugby both for the sport and the, er, talent - just as men appreciate attractive female athletes

BIO

Tim Noonan has been crafting uniquely provocative columns for the SCMP and SMP for more than a decade. A native of Canada, he has over 20 years’ experience in Asia and has been a regular contributor to a number of prominent publications, including Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Independent.
 

We won't need any banners or a ticker tape parade here but I am officially declaring March 29, 2014, as Women's Day at the Hong Kong Sevens, at least in this space. In honour of that I would like to quote from a song written by Norman Span that became a staple of the Grateful Dead's shows, Man Smart, Woman Smarter:

Let us put men and women together

See which one is smarter

Some say men, but I say no

The women got the men like a puppet show

A respected authority told me I needed to write from a women's perspective at the Sevens, which is a wonderful and long overdue idea. But understanding the complexity of a woman is for far greater minds than mine, so it was with a great deal of relief when a friend simplified things.

I enjoy the view, most women do and if they tell you differently they are probably lying
Sevens fan "Jessica"

Jessica is not her real name but Australia is her real country. She is more than happy to talk, but for obvious reasons will not go on the record. She has an infectious spirit and an irrepressible smile and has been a regular attendee for years.

"Let's be honest," she says, "while I appreciate the athletic skills of these players, there are some pretty fine specimens out there. Of course, I enjoy the view, most women do and if they tell you differently they are probably lying."

Do you care about the score, Jessica? "Yes," she replies, "actually I do. In fact, my favourite day is Sunday because the matches really matter. And of course there is much to enjoy visually as well."

For many of the women here their number one priority is not necessarily the, uhm, talent on the field.

Cheryl is from Hong Kong and the mother of two mini-rugby players who seem to keep her quite occupied. "Getting food, making sure they keep busy and don't get bored is the main thing," she says, before adding with a sheepish smile, "But, yes, there are some nice looking players on the field."

According to Jessica, women may be even more observant then the men when it comes to the matches. "It's usually the women who are much better at conserving themselves then men in a festive situation like this," she says.

"Although not all of them. I saw a couple of women in airline hostess outfits who were falling over drunk last night and all I could think of was I am glad they aren't working on my flight. But generally speaking, women seem to hold it together better then men."

Generally speaking, of course. I could easily fill up more than my allotted space with tales of debauchery from both sexes, so I'm not sure there is a high moral ground here. But as female friends and family members have told me countless times over the years, women are the fairer sex, so we have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Jessica also went on to say things could work both ways, that men could just as easily enjoy the sights and sounds of female sports.

"I went to watch the women's rugby the other day and I was kind of disappointed there weren't more men there," she said. "Some of these women are very attractive in their own right.

"Growing up playing netball in Australia we had all these fit women in short skirts and I know some men who quite enjoyed watching, but many didn't and they were missing out on something. During the matches, it's kind of like in the heat of the moment and sport has this brute sexual element, doesn't it? Of course, we want to be taken seriously for athletic ability as well, but it's all part of the package."

My sentiments exactly. If a top female tennis player sports a revealing outfit on court, I don't want to be asked if I am watching because she is a great player or because she is great to look at.

The answer is both. I didn't choose her outfit, she did and after talking to the likes of Jessica and some of the other appreciative and enlightened women, I don't even feel remotely chauvinistic admitting that.

For now though the roles here are clearly defined at the Sevens. The men on the pitch are the entertainment in a number of ways and that's more than OK in my book.

It's damn healthy because regardless of why you come to this event, you can't deny that sport indeed has a brute sexual element. At least that's what Jessica tells me.

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